My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Ten Stupidest Things Said On Sunday Morning

Originally, I was going to post what I thought were the ten stupidest questions asked on Sunday morning. But, surprisingly, the anchors did a passing good job (with the exception of Stephanopoulis); and, of course, with the ubiquitousness of Mary Landrieu, the stupidness could hardly be said to be contained to the questioning side of the desk.

So, having combed the transcripts of the Sunday morning talk shows, I present my Top Ten List:

10. Wolf Blitzer, on journalistic accuracy and professionalism: "I just want to clarify what we reported in the first hour of "Late Edition," when I was interviewing Russel Honore, the lieutenant general U.S. military commander on the ground.

I read to him a statement that the Associated Press put out on Saturday, that was reported on WashingtonPost.com, a statement quoting the National Guard bureau commander, General Steven Blum, as saying the following: "Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear," referring to Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard units in Iraq.

We just got a statement in on behalf of General Blum from the National Guard bureau denying that General Blum made any such statement. The statement goes on to stay that National Guard deployments to Iraq did not slow the Guard's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Guess all those layers of fact-checking let another one slip by.

9. Bob Schieffer, summarizing something totally unrelated:
Schieffer: On reflection, do you think now that FEMA should not be a part of that
giant bureaucracy, or should the relationship be changed in some way?

Sen Collins: That's a question that our oversight review will take a close look at. Myinclination is to say that FEMA does belong in the Department of Homeland Security. . . .
Schieffer: So what you're saying is you're going to try to find out was it a failure of structure or a failure of leadership? Schieffer then moves on before allowing an answer.

8. Russert, to Dr. Van Derheen, LSU hurricane expert: From the simulation, officials estimate that a storm like Hurricane Pam would: -cause flooding that would leave 300,000 people trapped in New Orleans, many of whom would not have private transportation for evacuation; -send evacuees to 1,000 shelters... -require the transfer of patients from hospitals in harm's way... `A White House staffer was briefed on the exercise,' said [the Center's Deputy Director]. `There is now a far greater awareness in the federal government about the consequences of storm surges.'"

And here's a compilation of the report. FEMA was there. The White House was there. You had a CD. You gave it to them. What happened? Why the breakdown?

First of all, like a professor at LSU knows what was actually going on behind the scenes; but secondly, I think the better, unasked, question would be "Why didn't New Orleans follow its own emergency plan, given that the "Got a CD"?

[this space blank to represent Blitzer's failure to ask Mary Evans of the American Red Cross about her people being denied access to the Superdome by the Louisiana State National Guard]

6. Blitzer, to Gov. Pataki: One final question, Governor, before I let you go -- this latest "Newsweek" poll: Do you approve of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president? Only 38 percent say they approve of the way he's doing his job; 55 percent disapprove. Objection, your Honor; argumentative, and a leading question.

5. Again Blitzer to Pataki: Governor, one of the lessons learned so far from Katrina is that so many of the National Guard troops in Louisiana and Mississippi were deployed to Iraq during this crisis. They could have been badly used back home. How many New York state National Guard troops are right now in Iraq, and what percentage of that is the overall New York state National Guard contingent? [see number 10, above]

4. Russert, to Mayor Nagin: Do you believe that New Orleans could have Mardi Gras in February of 2006? 'Cuz, you know, Mayor, I was really looking for a little escape in February, and, you know . . .

3. Anything at all uttered by George Stephanopoulis.

2. Russert, to the wrong guest: You knew it was coming. You warned it was coming. You did a simulation a year before, and now, you were dealing with reality. Why wasn't the city evacuated better, more quickly? And why weren't the resources put in place to deal with it? Asked of the LSU professor, rather than the mayor who had until ten minutes earlier occupied the same guest chair.

1. This was a tough one, because Sen. Landrieu was SO bad on so many shows. But here's my favorite, an exchange with Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: Well, look in the picture here. There were hundreds of buses in parking lots. The city and the state.
LANDRIEU: That is underwater. Those...
WALLACE: It wasn't underwater before the...
LANDRIEU: Those buses were underwater. Those buses...
WALLACE: They weren't underwater on Saturday; they weren't underwater on Sunday.
LANDRIEU: We had two catastrophes. We had a hurricane and then we had a levee break. When the levee broke, not only did New Orleans go underwater, but St. Bernard when underwater and St. Tammany Parish went underwater.
WALLACE: But they weren't underwater on Sunday.
LANDRIEU: And Plaquemines went underwater. And because the mayor evacuated the city, we had the best evacuation between Haley Barbour and Kathleen Blanco of any evacuation I've seen. I'm 50 years old; I've never seen one any better.
WALLACE: But there were a hundred thousand people left in the city.
LANDRIEU: They did a hundred thousand people left in the city because this federal government won't support cities to evacuate people, whether it's from earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. And that's the truth. And that will come out in the hearing

Were I Chris Wallace, I might have added that those buses also weren't underwater on Monday, but that would probably have drawn a flag for piling on.

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